The Marvelous QDDR quietly forgets about the State Dept’s EFM talent pool

Chapter 5 of the newly rolled out QDDR is titled Working Smarter: Reforming Our Personnel, Procurement, and Planning Capabilities to Meet the Challenges of the 21st Century

This section highlights six areas of reform needed to achieve that vision:

  • 1. Marshalling expertise to address 21st-century challenges
  • 2. Rewarding and better utilizing the civil service
  • 3. Closing the experience gap through mid-level hiring
  • 4. Recruiting and retaining highly skilled locally employed staff
  • 5. Training our people for 21st-century missions
  • 6. Aligning incentives and rewarding performance

The QDDR provides more discussion on its plans for direct hire FS employees, civil servants and foreign service nationals, starting on page 174. Not one mention on expanded employment opportunities for EFMs and partners. Or how to put the language skills of foreign born spouses and those trained at FSI to effective use.  Or how to put to best used their double MAs, Ph.Ds, JDs, etc. as they trail after their employee spouses from one end of the globe to another.  Just one more proof that EFM issues particularly when it comes to employment in nowhere near anyone’s radar screen at the State Department. FLO as an employment advocate has false teeth when it comes to spouse employment . Why?  Because without the employment equalization fund, it cannot provide carrot to posts to hire XYZ above the FSN rates.    

Spouse employment is considered by many decision makers as nothing more than gravy (you already have free housing, why do you need to work? Gooo — find a hobby to keep yourself occupied).  Remember that, the next time you weep over your next Social Security statement. But why should they think of expanding employment opportunities for the spouses and partners? Close to 30,000 folks applied for the FS exam last year.  If State is authorized to hire 745 new employees this year, that’s about 40 applicants for each vacancy.      

Meanwhile, the State Department’s Family Liaison Office has hired 17 Global Employment Advisors in the last couple of years. They are tasked with providing in-country and regional support to 2/3 of some 10,000 EFMS and partners looking for jobs overseas. 

The Global Emloyment Initiative (GEI) is “designed to help family members with career development and identification of employment opportunities. GEI establishes global partnerships with multinational corporations, organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide family members of U.S. direct-hire employees serving abroad with the contacts necessary to develop and sustain their career ambitions.”

Unfortunately, we can no longer locate its flyer that says how wonderful is this State Department talent pool; basically, multinationals should grab each one as soon as they can and come back for more.

Frankly, if we were working as the hiring manager of a multinational corporation overseas, we’d like to know why — if this talent pool is so great — how come the US Government has no real interest in tapping it?

We’ll write about the diplomatic spouse career track one of these days. For now, it is enough to say that it is harder than it looks —  and some days like today — we think it is totally depressing as the news about Norman, Oklahoma, which has the highest level of chromium 6 among 35 cities in the country. At least 74 million Americans in 42 states drink chromium-polluted tap water, much of it likely in the form of cancer-causing hexavalent chromium. The last remaining super power in the world, and we can’t drink the tap water!  We are officially depressed now.